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KLM celebrates 75 years of connection between Canada and the Netherlands

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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines celebrates the 75th anniversary of its first flight from Amsterdam to Montreal.

On May 29, 1949, a KLM crew welcomed the first passenger on board a Lockheed Constellation 749 named “Batavia” with the registration number PH-TDB. It was the first commercial connection between Canada and mainland Europe.

The flight from Amsterdam to Montreal, with refueling stops in Prestwick and Gander, took just over 20 hours. From Montreal, the flight continued to Curaçao, an island in the Dutch West Indies, with a technical stopover in Havana.

At that time, KLM had 400 pilots, including 50 Canadians. Two of The pilots of the maiden flight came from Ontario: 26-year-old Richard John Rose and 37-year-old William Lesauvage.

Honorary receptions were held at the Ritz Carlton, the Windsor Hotel and Montreal City Hall. In their speeches, the Dutch guests emphasized the privileged relations between the Netherlands and Canada since 1945 and thanked the Canadian government and soldiers for welcoming the royal family to Ottawa and contributing to the liberation of the Netherlands during World War II.

“The launch of this service between Montreal and Amsterdam paved the way for KLM’s presence in Canada and helped strengthen diplomatic and commercial relations between the two countries,” said Jean-Eudes de La Bretèche, GM of Air France KLM Canada.

“With its 75-year presence, Canada occupies a special place in KLM’s history and network.

“We are proud to have continued this expansion and to operate up to 39 weekly flights this summer to our five Canadian destinations: Montreal (7), Toronto (14), Vancouver (7), Calgary (7) and Edmonton (4.”

The airline pointed out that KLM had already landed planes in Dorval to transport Dutch families before the opening of the Amsterdam-Montreal route.

“Charter flights had been organized to enable these families to immigrate and build a new life in Canada, particularly in Ontario and the western provinces.”

KLM, the world's oldest airline, says it has been pursuing the goal of making the personal travel experience even more meaningful for over 100 years, “be it through an upgrade, a more spacious seat, the service on board or the attentive care of the crew.”

WestJet and KLM
WestJet and KLM

As demand for travel increases and Canadians look for more meaningful travel experiences, KLM launched a new platform earlier this year.

The airline said the goal of Travel Well is to inspire travelers and enable them to make more meaningful connections at every stage of their journey.

This year, KLM also announced a multi-year partnership with the Toronto Football Club (TFC) as the team’s official international airline.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its presence in Toronto, “this collaboration marks a significant step forward in KLM’s commitment to Ontario,” KLM said in a press release.